We started with gazpacho, which Jarred loves and I haven't made in years. I decided to puree it instead of leaving it in big chunks like I normally do. The chunks always make me feel like I'm eating salsa - it felt much more soupy as a puree. I covered some shrimp in cumin and grilled them before tossing them on top of the soup, and I really liked the contrast of hot spicy shrimp and cold soup. I didn't have Tobasco, but I did use Spicy V-8 instead of tomato juice as the gazpacho base.
The recipe made a HUGE bowl, which will make a nice addition to lunches for the next week.
Then we had grilled fish tacos. Now, I've never been to California. I have never eaten (I'm
guessing) "authentic" fish tacos. I don't know what that means, but I imagine I'd know it if I'd eaten it. I have had fried fish tacos at a few places, including the controversial Border Cafe (it's a go-to fun and casual cheap eats place for me, but that "authenticity" issue seems to be a sticking point for many people) and I've had grilled fish tacos at the even more controversial Cheesecake Factory. In the interest of health, taste, and keeping my kitchen walls grease-splatter free, I opted for the grilled. The recipe I used came with a great marinade that called for Old Bay but didn't need it. Didn't need the honey, either, which I discovered because our honey has entirely crystallized and I was too lazy to do anything about it. I also didn't feel like messing with the gas grill on the rainy porch, so I grilled the tilapia in about 2 minutes on the rusty trusty Foreman. Jarred wanted whole wheat tortillas, which even after heating weren't very soft or flexible, but we're not good at folding them anyway so I don't think it would have made much difference anyway.
I chopped some red cabbage (since we don't have a shredder - we're missing a lot of things which I hadn't realized during the school year) and cilantro, made a mild avacado crema and modified the dressing in the recipe to be a mix of fat-free sour cream, adobo sauce, some chipotle seeds, lime juice, and cumin. A lingering smoky spice, it was just bordering Too Hot For Jenny To Eat, but not quite. I also made one of Jarred's favorites, a black bean and corn salad with an olive oil/lime/cayenne dressing that really makes the entire dish (recipe below; note: I only use one can of black beans because I like mine with more vegetables, and I use one or two scallions at most because they can get really strong).
We ended with my first, and very successful, attempt at a granita.
The recipe was simple enough, and I used some leftover watermelon puree to pour on the granita before serving to make it a little juicy. For a dinner party I'd consider adding a little vodka to make a slushy drink/dessert. I definitely want to make more of these. Very refreshing and really easy. I'd like to try a lemon/blueberry version next, and maybe a spiced cider version on a warm autumn day?
I love how fresh everything tasted and how relatively easy it was to compile. I'd love some suggestions for things to do with the leftover adobo cream - we have tons of it! Burger topping seems too obvious... any ideas?
Corn and Black Bean Salad
½ cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 15oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1½ cups frozen corn kernels
1 avocado peeled, pitted and diced
1 red bell pepper chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
6 green onions thinly sliced
½ cup fresh cilantro
Place lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and cayenne pepper in a small jar. Cover with lid, and shake untl well mixed. In a salad bowl, combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro. Shake lime dressing and pour over salad. Stir to coat and serve.